Tag Archives: illussion

Maya: Our personal world measured out

“Maayaa is the lack of discernment of the principles beginning with Kalaa.”

The principles (that obscure the individual soul) form a group that ranges from Kalaa to Earth. (They are called) “principles” tattva because the entire universe is pervaded by them. Kalaa is said to be (the individual soul’s) limited power of action.” (Aphorisms of Shiva. Trans. Mark Dyczkowsky. 3/3)

The more consciousness is freed from the impurity (mala) the more the light of the self is revealed.” (p. 377, Kashmir Shaivism)

He who is deprived of his power by the forces of obscuration (kala), and a victim of the powers arising from the mass of sounds (shabdarashi) is called a fettered soul.” (Stanzas 45)

Three kinds of mala (defilements):

1. Anava mala: (mula mala – root mala) arises as consciousness descends to sadashiva (this is perhaps where we are a thought in our parents mind; duality is just recognizable, but we are not yet separated from non-duality) level as a mantra-maheshvara; as the lord puts limits on himself (self-contraction) which occurs at the very first moment of the manifestation of the universe. (Sun)

a) For those whose experience is above the mayatttva (pure beings) which includes experients from mantra-maheshvara to vijnankalas. Knowledge of the divine remains intact, but experients do not have freedom of action.

b) Freedom of action is intact, but experients do not recognize their divine awareness. This is said to be the fate of everyone who experiences life as individuals from prakriti down (parlayakalas and sakalas (the human experience/human condition)).

2. Mayiya mala: Maya (Moon) and the five kanchukas (Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn). Gives gross and subtle bodies to the soul. Brings about the sense of duality. Robs us of all sense of divinity and makes us oblivious to our real nature.

The five Kanchukas: 1. Kalaa: limits power (Sun, Mars), 2. vidya: limits knowledge (Jupiter, Mercury), 3. Raga: limits fullness (Moon, Venus), 4. Kaala: experience of time and change (Moon, Saturn) , 5. Niyati: experience of cause and effect (Saturn, Mars) .

3. Karma Mala: provides us with our physical body which is essentially a collective of residual impressions (past karmas). Once karma mala defiles the monade, embodied individuals known as sakals (humans) are created. Karma is the imprint made in the mind due to action motivated out of attachment. (Rahu/Ketu)

The jiva (limited soul, Sun) is limiting himself thru maya (moon) and the five kanchukas (planets). The Malas are due to the kanchukas and two types of ignorance (ajnana):

      1. Paurusha ajnana (Ketu): the innate ignorance regarding the truth of the self.
      2. Bauddha ajnana (rahu): ignorance of the buddhi. Considers the subtle body and the gross body as the self on account of ashuddha vikalpas (creating ideas, thought constructs; irrational or psychological thought)

Replacing this ignorance (ajnana) with knowledge (jnana) is the main prescription of Shaivism.

The Limitations of Man: a tantric perspective

To hear some people speak, you would think that humans would die out quickly if we stopped the mental chatter about past and future. Many people are attached to this chatter and there is nothing wrong with this: it’s the differences that make life. To have just one of something is not possible to recognize because recognition needs something else to compare with the first. Things have to go a little out of balance for the whole to exist. Though this “out of balance” has to balance upon something and that something is of course the one.

So, it’s natural and necessary that no one gets along or agrees with each other. This is the ravage of time on embodied existence. These are the effects of the limitations of time, knowledge, power, desire, and the effects of cause and effect itself. Without such limitations where would we be? We certainly wouldn’t be here raging against these limitations as we head off to our meditation workshops and places of worship following whatever practices seem to be offering some positive effect this week.

In the mean time, without ever taking a serious look at the natural limitations that turn out to benefit us, we blame the other person or the other group or the other nation for the “curse” of these very necessary limitations. Some traditions put these limitations into the category of illusion. By doing so, they trivialize all that we know of the joys and sufferings of life. If the limitations are mere illusions, then everything that comes after them is also illusion; which pretty much covers everything that embodies beings recognize as reality: all matter all experience.

But this life is no illusion. If matter and experience were mere illusion, then we could not use it to see past the limitations. Illusion cannot be used to reach reality, but reality can be used to see a deeper reality if we learn how to use it.

Our bodies are matter: finely tuned instruments with a handful of limited senses and limited ways of taking action in the world. And somewhere inside of our bodies is a mind with various ways of computing all the information coming and going.

The spiritual path begins when we begin to notice some difference between what is happening on a physical emotional plane and the one watching it all unfold. And though we might complain and discredit those whose views and ways of life are different from our own (whether spiritual or material life, structured or chaotic), it’s these essential differences of human nature that prod us to look beyond the differences.

Just as great suffering so often becomes a great blessing by inclining a person towards spiritual path, so too does the constant bickering amongst people and within minds allow for the blessing of discovering the inner witness. As the ‘witness’ we can easily recognize non-difference though we are forced to live in the world of bountiful difference.


Note for those who asked, how is this related with Tantra?

This article takes Tantric perspective in that Tantra (Kashmiri Shaivism) is a realist philosophy. Maya (the limiting factor) is real and not illusury. God consciousness permeates maya as much as everything else. Tantra teaches us how to use maya as away of overcoming maya. This is said to only be possible because, as Mark Dyzkowski so beautifully put it in his exposition on the Aphorisms of Shiva, everything “participates equally in the unity of the hearts essence.”